Friday, April 1, 2011

Cape School District and United Way present new education strategy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The United Way of Southeast Missouri and the Cape Girardeau School District laid out strategies designed by their joint Education Solutions Team at a luncheon on Thursday.

The team suggested increasing early childhood education, improving support for educators, rigorous standards, and to focus on literacy and high expectations for students, among other goals.

The idea is to integrate the entire community into the education of its children.

The United Way’s John McGowan says that these strategies will go a long way towards improving Cape Girardeau’s 78% graduation rate. However, he cautions that success should not be judged solely by improving the number of students who receive a high school diploma.

“When we talk about success, graduation is a piece of that. But we need to graduate our children with the ability to get a job or to continue on in their schooling and to be successful in either one, whatever their choice is,” McGowan said.

The United Way will also work in a similar capacity with the Jackson and Scott County school districts.

Missouri Education Commission Chris Nicastro attended Thursday’s luncheon. She applauded Cape Girardeau and the United Way’s joint effort, and recommends that other communities follow Cape Girardeau’s lead.

Missouri’s education system is in the middle of the pack when compared to other states, Nicastro says. She wants Missouri to be ranked in the top 10 of education states by the year 2020.

The “Top 10 by 20” plan would do so by having rigorous standards for educational achievement, a transparent method of assessing those standards, early childhood education, and supporting and securing high quality educators.

These steps, Nicastro says, fall in line with strategies that have been developed by the Cape Girardeau School District and the United Way under their joint Education Solutions Team.

The Missouri House passed a budget this week that would hold flat funding for elementary and secondary education. Nicastro says that her counterparts in other states are a little jealous.

“These are really difficult economic times. Everybody knows that. To say that our state leaders – legislature, governor, others – are committed to maintaining that level of funding, is quite an accolade for our state,” Nicastro said.

The budget is awaiting approval from the Senate.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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